Monday, November 7, 2011

Bring Back the Placeat

A gift much to be hoped for would be the extension of several rubrics in the modern Carthusian Missal of 1981 to the whole Roman Rite.

To repeat what I have blogged on before:

  • the Carthusian Mass retains the Introit, Gradual, Alleluia or Tract, and Communion – the chant Propers – just as the Roman Mass does (in scarce books such as the Graduale), but incorporates their texts into the Missal for greater convenience (alas, even the Carthusians only retain the chant of the Offertory for sung Masses, and do not include its text in their Missal);
  • the Carthusian Mass has but one Penitential Act, that using the Confiteor &c.;
  • the Carthusian Mass retains the Lavabo at the washing of the priest's hands (which could at least be given as an alternative text in the Roman Missal, alongside the modern choice of Lava me);
  • above all, the Carthusian Mass has the rule (Introduction, I, 6) Precem eucharisticam de more secreto proferimus, concelebratione aliisque circumstantiis particularibus exceptis – "The Eucharistic Prayer we customarily offer secretly, excepting at concelebrations and other particular circumstances" – and would that this rule be returned to use in the Roman Rite (where until the reform of the Liturgy, the Roman Canon was only prayed aloud at ordinations);
  • the Carthusian Mass has no Memorial Acclamations (which are foreign to the Roman Rite, after all, being derived from the Coptic if I recall correctly);
  • the Carthusian Mass appoints the Placeat (in their recension of that venerable prayer) to be said after the dismissal, as the priest bows before the altar before kissing it.

I would like to emphasise, not so much even the very desirable making Memorial Acclamations and the Eucharistic Prayer aloud optional, but the reinsertion of the Placeat into the modern, Ordinary Form of the Mass.

As Michael Davies pointed out somewhere in his writings, even the inclusion of the Placeat alone would safeguard the traditional understanding of the Mass as a propitiatory sacrifice, offered by the priest, for the living and the dead, against modern tendencies to read it as but a Protestant commemorative service.

None other than the Sacred Congregation of Rites, in Tres Abhinc Annos, its Second Instruction “for the orderly implementation of the Constitution on the Liturgy of the Second Vatican Council” (May 4, 1967), specified that:

It is recommended that the priest recite the Placeat silently as he is leaving the altar. (n. 16)

The Placeat also well-expresses the consensus of East and West (as confirmed by the Byzantines at the Synod of Constantinople in 1156) that the Divine Sacrifice of Christ is offered up to all Three Divine Persons, He receiving as God what He offers as Man: hence the prayer prays the Holy Trinity to receive the Holy Sacrifice.

My own reflection has made me realize how the Placeat well corresponds and answers to the Orate fratres and its response Suscipiat, and also how the Placeat well-summarizes and reflects the phrasing and theology of the Roman Canon.

Herewith, the texts of the Orate fratres &c. (in Latin and the new English version), and then the Placeat (with an unofficial translation):

Orate, fratres, ut meum ac vestrum sacrificium acceptabile fiat apud Deum Patrem omnipotentem. R/. Suscipiat Dominus sacrificium de manibus tuis, ad laudem et gloriam nominis sui, ad utilitatem quoque nostram, totiusque Ecclesiæ suæ sanctæ.

Pray, brethren (brothers and sisters), that my sacrifice and yours may be acceptable to God, the almighty Father. R/. May the Lord accept the sacrifice at your hands for the praise and glory of his name, for our good and the good of all his holy Church. 

Placeat tibi, sancta Trinitas, obsequium servitutis meæ, et præsta, ut sacrificium, quod oculis tuæ Majestatis indignus obtuli, tibi sit acceptabile, mihique et omnibus, pro quibus illud obtuli, sit, te miserante, propitiabile. Per Christum Dominum nostrum. Amen.

(May the homage of my service be pleasing to Thee, O holy Trinity; and grant, that the sacrifice, which I, though unworthy, have offered in the sight of Thy Majesty, may be acceptable to Thee: and through Thy mercy win forgiveness for me and for all those for whom I have offered it.  Through Christ our Lord.  Amen. – Cabrol's translation)

It will be evident how the thoughts expressed in the Orate fratres &c. are resumed in the Placeat.

The parallels between the Placeat and the Roman Canon are very many; evidently, the sacramental theology of the latter suffused the composer of the former, who simply put into the singular what the Canon renders in the plural: 
  • Placeat… acceptabile… propitiabile – cf. accepta habeas… placatus accipias… acceptabilemque… accepta habere (Roman Canon, Te igitur, Hanc igitur, Quam oblationem, Supra quæ); 
  • obsequium servitutis meæ – cf. oblationem servitutis nostræ (Roman Canon, Hanc igitur); 
  • quod oculis tuæ Majestatis – cf. offerimus præclaræ Majestati tuæ… Supra quæ propitio ac sereno vulto respicere digneris… in conspectu divinæ Majestatis tuæ (Roman Canon, Unde et memores, Supra quæ, Supplices te rogamus); 
  • sacrificium… mihique et omnibus pro quibus illud obtuli – cf. pro quibus tibi offerimus, vel qui tibi offerunt hoc sacrificium laudis, pro se, suisque omnibus (Roman Canon, Memento Dñe); 
  • indignus – cf. Nobis quoque peccatoribus (Roman Canon, Nobis quoque); 
  • te miserante – cf. de multitudine miserationum tuarum sperantibus... veniæ… largitor (Roman Canon, Nobis quoque).
It may be added that, by analogy with the what was done elsewhere to private prayers of the priest in the reform of the liturgy of Mass, the short ending Per Christum Dominum nostrum could be deleted; it does not occur in all recensions of this prayer (cf. Jungmann).

Priests: even for the moment as a private devotion, bring back your praying of the Placeat!

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